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Poor weather conditions cancel landing of B-17s, P-51s

Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2018 @ 12:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 9:59 AM

World War II-era planes to fly over Dayton Wednesday morning

UPDATE @ 10 a.m.: 

Poor weather conditions will prevent a dozen World War II planes from landing at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Wednesday. 

NEW MISSION: Here’s how restorers spent decades saving the Memphis Belle’s legacy

The arrivals were first delayed by two hours Wednesday morning, but were cancelled just before 10 a.m.

The planes however will conduct flyovers during the day as weather permits, according to officials. 

Additional details were not immediately available. 

FIRST REPORT (May 16):

A dozen World War II planes —- including three World War II-era bombers — will rumble the skies Wednesday above the Miami Valley to mark the unveiling of the restored icon the B-17F Memphis Belle, expected to bring thousands of spectators to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force this week.

The planes originally were scheduled to arrive beginning at 8 a.m., but the Air Force museum announced arrivals would start 10:30 a.m. Wednesday because of weather delays. The planes will be on static display Thursday and Friday.

Two B-17s —the Movie Memphis Belle, which starred in a 1990 Hollywood film about the famed plane, and Yankee Lady of the Yankee Air Force — along with several P-51 Mustangs and training aircraft — will fly in from Grimes Field in Urbana while the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Aluminum Overcast will take-off from Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Miami Twp., on Wednesday morning, said museum spokesman Rob Bardua.

“It’s almost going to be like 1945,” said John Cassano, of Rochester, N.Y., and a Movie Memphis Belle crewman and volunteer affiliated with the National Warplane Museum in New York.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: ‘Memphis Belle’ will rumble over real-life version in Dayton

The Memphis Belle and a new World War II strategic bombing exhibit will be unveiled at a private event Wednesday evening with a public ribbon-cutting at 9:15 a.m. Thursday, the 75th anniversary of the Memphis Belle’s 25th bombing mission over Europe.

Under restoration at the museum since 2005, the Memphis Belle was the first U.S. Army Air Force’s bomber to finish 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States. The plane, the star of a 1944 documentary, embarked on a three-month war bonds and morale building tour in 1943 that included a stop in Dayton.

To accommodate crowds, Gate 24B off Harshman Road near the U.S. Army Reserve Center will be open to inbound traffic only starting at 8 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 17-19.

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Those driving southbound on Harshman, and coaches, buses, RVs or other oversized vehicles, won’t be allowed to enter through Gate 24B and must drive through 28B, the main gate off Springfield Street, according to the museum.

The three B-17 bombers flying in for the celebration will sell rides Saturday and Sunday from the fields they departed before landing at the museum, organizers said.

The Movie Memphis Belle and the Yankee Lady will sell rides for $450 a seat Friday and Saturday at Grimes Field and Aluminum Overcast will sell rides for $475 a seat to EAA non-members and $435 for members Saturday and Sunday at Dayton-Wright Brothers, organizers said. For additional information on rides aboard Aluminum Overcast, log onto b17.org; for Movie Memphis Belle log onto https://nationalwarplanemuseum.com/rides-1; and for the Yankee Lady log onto http://yankeeairmuseum.org/fly/.

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AF museum attendance soars on first day of Memphis Belle opening

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 1:38 PM


            The Memphis Belle exhibit opens at the National Museum of the US Air Force. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
            TY GREENLEES
The Memphis Belle exhibit opens at the National Museum of the US Air Force. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(TY GREENLEES)

Attendance at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force soared Thursday nearly four times above the average for the same date in recent years with the debut of the Memphis Belle exhibit, figures show.

The museum counted 11,066 people in attendance for the unveiling of the reborn icon, compared to an average of 2,421 on May 17 between 2015 through 2017, spokesman Rob Bardua said.

“We are anticipating large crowds for sure,” he said. “You never know the exact number to expect.”

RELATED: ‘It took my breath away,’: Memphis Belle unveiled at AF museum

Memphis Belle activities with more than 160 re-actors, plane flyovers, book signings and movie screenings were to continue through Saturday,

The Belle was the first U.S.Army Air Forces bomber to complete 25 missions over war-torn Europe and return to the United States. The exhibit was revealed to the public on the 75th anniversary of its final mission.

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Did you see the president’s plane? Why it was here.

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 11:08 AM

A lumbering Air Force VC-25 presidential transport plane know as Air Force One was flying over Dayton and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for more than an hour on Thursday

Spectators of World War II bombers and fighters landing at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force got an extra bonus Thursday.

The plane commonly referred to as Air Force One, a Boeing 747 designated VC-25 in the Air Force, practiced touch-and-go landings on Wright-Patterson’s main runway. The jumbo jet is Air Force One only when the president is aboard.

Two B-17 bombers, a P-51 fighter and a PT-19 trainer, flew to the museum’s airstrip from Grimes Field in Urbana around the same time as part of festivities marking the debut of the B-17 Memphis Belle exhibit at the museum.

RELATED: ‘Memphis Belle’ will rumble over real-life version in Dayton

“Wright-Patt is an ideal location for training the VC-25 crews because we are close by air to the (Washington) DC area, have a long runway and light traffic compared to the DC metropolitan area,” base spokesman Daryl Mayer said in an e-mail. “It was merely a coincidence the VC-25 was training at the same time the B-17 contingent was landing on the (museum’s) runway. Our tower had contact with all aircraft at all times and were in compliance with all safety regulations.”

The World War II aircraft took off later in the day and may return for flyovers Friday but will not land because of weather concerns, said museum spokesman Rob Bardua.

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‘She’s gorgeous’: Thousands see Memphis Belle exhibit at AF museum

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 11:43 AM

Memphis Belle exhibit officially opens

Alison and Chris Hoglan traveled to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force from St. Louis to see a legend reborn Thursday.

The mother and son were in a crowd of hundreds who watched a ribbon-cutting to the new B-17 Memphis Belle exhibit, showcasing the historic bomber’s 25 missions over Europe in World War II and the role of strategic bombing in the U.S. victory.

“She’s gorgeous,” said Alison Hoglan, 57.

Chris Hoglan thought the plane looked like it was in taking off and in mid-flight.

“I really like the way they displayed it with the landing gear up,” he said. “It was worth the trip.”

The Memphis Belle — made famous in two Hollywood films — gained fame as the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States in 1943.

A ribbon-cutting Thursday morning made the opening of the exhibit official after the Belle was revealed in a private ceremony with about 1,000 people and family members of the late crew Wednesday night. And after a formation fly over of the museum Wednesday, four World War II-era planes — two B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, a P-51 Mustang fighter and a PT-19 trainer weer expected to land on the museum airstrip Thursday morning and remain on static display through the day.

P-51 Mustang Ain't Misbehavin' and B-17 Aluminum Overcast at The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The Memphis Belle exhibit opened to the public on Thursday after a 13-year restoration. Staff and volunteers worked 55,000 hours to restore the iconic World War II bomber. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Thomas Harrington, 12, a fan of the Memphis Belle, traveled with his family from Northhampton, England to help cut the ribbon Thursday in front of the famous bomber. “It’s amazing how they have restored it in such good condition,” he said.

Linda Morgan, 72, of Crane Hill, Ala., and widow of Robert Morgan Sr., got a first look at the restored bomber in Wednesday night’s ceremony. The Belle, she said, “took her breath away.”

“I’ve seen pictures of that plane when it was in tatters and this, it looks better than when it came out of the factory,” she said in an interview with reporters.

The B-17 Memphis Belle was unveiled in a private ceremony Wednesday and opened to the public Thursday. MICHAEL BURIANEK / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Brian Pecon, president of the Memphis Belle Memorial Association, had waited decades for the moment. The Belle was brought to the museum in 2005 from Tennessee after a fund-raising attempt failed to meet its goal to fully restore and display the plane in Memphis.

RELATED: ‘It took my breath away’: Memphis Belle unveiled at AF museum

“When they dropped that curtain yesterday it was truly awe-inspiring,” Pecon said Thursday. “It didn’t bring tears, but was a great emotional release.”

Glenn Legnon, 72, trekked from Lebanon, Tennessee, to see the spectacle.

“I think it was a good decision (to move the plane to the museum) because the aircraft had deteriorated so much in Memphis,” he said. “It took them from 2005 until now to get it restored.”

Visitors gather for a private viewing of the Memphis Belle, a Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress," at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Wednesday, May 16, 2018, in Dayton, Ohio. The World War II bomber Memphis Belle is set to go on display for the first time since getting a yearslong restoration at the museum. The B-17 “Flying Fortress” will be introduced Thursday morning as the anchor of an extensive exhibit in the Dayton-area museum’s World War II gallery.(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Since 2005, aircraft restorers and volunteers have painstakingly researched and labored to restore the famed aircraft to its wartime look, said museum director John “Jack” Hudson.

Parts of the museum grounds look like a military encampment with more than 160 re-enacters and dozens of military and civilian vehicles as part of festivities through Saturday.

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‘It took my breath away’: Memphis Belle unveiled at AF museum

Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 8:42 PM

Restored Memphis Belle unveiled at museum

The reborn Memphis Belle was unveiled Wednesday night before hundreds including the families of crewmen who flew the famed Army Air Forces bomber into history.

Under theatrical lighting and uplifted above the ground by three metal poles, the Memphis Belle was surrounded by a strategic bombing exhibit with cases filled with artifacts, many personal items of the crewmen who flew aboard the four-engine bomber on the perilous journeys.

Robert K. Morgan Jr., 72, of San Francisco, son of the late pilot Robert K. Morgan who died in 2004, wore his father’s silver wings and a bracelet he kept during the war.

“It means everything to me and my family that he’s here in spirit,” he said. “It’s just one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.”

The Memphis Belle made history as the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to survive 25 bombing missions over Germany and occupied France and return to the United States in 1943.

PHOTOS: 13 years and 55,000 hours of work restored Memphis Belle

Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, Air Force director of staff and a keynote speaker at the unveiling, said the iconic bomber was at its final duty station and stood as both a symbol of the sacrifice of thousands of airmen in the skies of Europe and the might of the American industry in World War II that produced more than 300,000 aircraft during the war.

“It’s almost overwhelming. It’s almost tearful,” she said of the unveiling of the plane. “When the curtain came down and you saw her and the thousands of hours it took to restore her back to life. She is serving her final duty station to educate America on the sacrifices that our Army Air Corps men and women had in World War II.”

Linda Morgan, 72, of Crane Hill, Ala., and widow of Robert Morgan Sr., said the restored bomber “took my breath away.”

“I’ve seen pictures of that plane when it was in tatters and this, it looks better than when it came out of the factory,” she said in an interview with reporters.

Since 2005, restorers and volunteers have labored over 55,000 hours to restore the famed aircraft to its wartime look.

“After all the years, we’re almost there,” museum curator Jeff Duford said hours before the unveiling. “It’s almost surreal.”

“…What we get from this is an iconic touchstone that people can learn from,” said museum historian Doug Lantry.

Catherine Wyler, daughter of film director William Wyler who produced a 1944 documentary on the Belle and herself was a co-producer of a 1990 movie about the plane, appeared at the Belle’s debut.

“I think it’s fabulous … this is such a dramatic way to show it,”said Wyler, of Washington, D.C. “… I have a very sentimental attachment, not only because of my father, but also because of the film I made.”

Three B-17s and five P-51s flew over the museum in formation Wednesday in a salute to the World War II bomber.

A public ribbon-cutting for the Belle and a new exhibit of personal artifacts of the crewmen, part of a strategic bombing exhibit, was set for Thursday, the 75th anniversary of the crews final mission.

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